The Echinopsis Genus has long been a a popular group with cactus growers and flower lovers. Many species and countless hybrids and cultivars are favored for their beautiful, and large flowers held high above the stems on very long tubes. The range of flower colors in this group is amazing, from pure whites, pastels of creams, pinks, and pale, buttery yellows, through the most vibrant magentas, yellows, and reds. Many cultivars have different colored midribs on their petals, giving some flowers a bi-
Most of the plants to be found in cultivation are easy going, and are easy to grow, and are reliable bloomers, responding well to my general guidelines for growing cacti and other succulents. In recent years, the Echinopsis Genus has been greatly expanded, and now contains plants which had been previously classified as Lobivia, Trichocereus, Helianthocereus, Soehrensia, and Pseudolobivia.
Society member, Doug Sweet, has been a long time grower of Echinopsis, and over the years, he has propagated tens of thousands of seedlings, including many plants which he had intentionally hybridized. This month's plant was one of Doug's hybrids, and he felt that it was exceptional enough to honor our oldest member, Vera Norman, by naming this plant after her. Vera has recently celebrated her 101st birthday, and still maintains a remarkable collection of cactus and other succulents in her collection. One of Vera's great passions are the Echinopsis, which she has been growing and exhibiting for more years than most of us have been alive, winning many blue ribbons over the years at various flowers shows in Central Ohio for her exceptionally grown plants. Two years ago, Doug presented Vera with a number of pups from this plant, and shared several others with myself and a few other members of the Columbus Cactus and Succulent Society. The plant featured here is from one of those pups.
The Flowers of Echinopsis 'Vera Norman' are attractively colored, with light fuchsia petals with watermelon centers (my camera tends to artificially intensify colors and contrast: while I have tried to correct for this , these images may not quite match the colors of the flowers perfectly). The first flower on my plant, measured almost 3 inches across , and as this plant matures, I suspect that subsequent flowers may be somewhat larger. Sadly, the individual flowers are short lived -
At present, my plant is globose, and I am not certain if it will remain like this with age, or if it will become more columnar as it matures. But like most of Echinopsis plants, this one tillers prolifically from even a very early age producing additional offsets with each year. The spine clusters are well spaced, and the spines are fairly short. It has proven to be very easy to grow, and very tolerant of the various growing conditions which it has been subjected to. My experience even indicates that it will tolerate extended periods of near freezing temperatures during its winter dormancy (it will not survive prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures -
Sources: There are only a few Echinopsis 'Vera Norman' plants in cultivation -